Some two weeks ago, I left for our family ranch west of San Saba, Texas. I traveled with as much speed as I could, as my eighty-two old mother, had pancreatitis and needed me to stay with her in a hospital and be present for decisions made. As I traveled I listened to various radio commentators predict the fate of our aged if a certain Healthcare Bill passed. I did not anticipate some already unusual ideas that Medicare has regarding the elderly.
Mother's week in the hospital was marked by meeting some really friendly and caring physicians and nurses, who give me gratefulness that West Texas still produces both well educated and caring medical personnel. Altogether it was with gratitude that I drove mother the near 120 miles back to the ranch the day following surgery.
I was armed with a wad of prescriptions that needed to be filled before we reached home late one Saturday. Since mother's pharmacy was located in a Wal-Mart, I left the scripts with capable pharmacists and shopped awhile. Returning to pick up her medicines the pharmacist called me to come over and discuss the different medications and their uses and required knowledge. Then he paused and said,
Now, I need to tell you that your mother's pain medication will have to be purchased by you, as Medicare will not pay for these, as your mother is too old.
Thinking I heard the man wrong, I asked him,
Did I hear you correctly? Did I hear you say my mother is too old for pain medication following surgery?
The druggist, smiling, repeated his previous comment, reiterating that Medicare, at least in his district, refuses to pay for pain medication for seniors, even following surgery.
I told him to fill Mother's pain medications, then wrote a check to pay the pharmacy. As I left there I wondered, how will we proceed from here as a nation? Will we subject seniors the indignity of not even providing a simple pain pill of significant strength in the last days on earth? As I left the store I pondered the old sentiment regarding aging, that being it isn't for cowards!
Mrs. Gunn is a fourth generation Texas cattle rancher and wife of retired Army Officer.